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December 20, 2014

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Sports books make Florida State a 7- to 8-point favorite over Auburn

Dissecting the early line in the BCS National Championship

Image

Richard Shiro / AP

Florida State wide receiver Rashad Greene (80) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Clemson during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, in Clemson, S.C.

Other BCS games betting lines

  • Rose Bowl: Michigan State plus-3.5 vs. Stanford
  • Fiesta Bowl: UCF plus-17 vs. Baylor
  • Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma plus-17 vs. Alabama
  • Orange Bowl: Ohio State minus-4 . Clemson
  • Numbers come from offshore sports books. Las Vegas casinos expected to release spreads on Monday or later in the week.

For the first time in five years, the two teams the BCS labeled as the best in the country doubled as the most profitable to bet on over the course of the season.

No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn each went 11-2 against the spread, giving oddsmakers fits throughout the year. That includes Saturday and Sunday when local sports books slowly began to post Florida State as a 7- to 8-point favorite over Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif.

“It was a very difficult number to make,” LVH Superbook Executive Director Jay Kornegay said. “There are a lot of factors that went into it. Auburn has gained a ton of popularity over the last couple weeks, which I can understand, but there are also those who have said Florida State is the best team all year and maintain that.”

Kornegay opened the spread on the low end of the spectrum. His team opted to hang Florida State minus-7 Saturday night even if they weren’t completely comfortable with the number.

They were on the verge of going lower, but offshore books releasing as high as minus-10 dissuaded them. Kornegay didn’t want to stray too far from the competition and face an onslaught of early money on one side.

“If we were the only sports book in the world, it would be a lot lower,” Kornegay said. “I think it should certainly be less than a touchdown. I think the underdog has the advantage right now.”

Early action disagreed. The Superbook moved to 7.5 for a while as the first set of significant bets came in on the Seminoles.

“I believe that money was just because the market was higher than where we had it,” Kornegay said. “We’re back to 7, and I have a feeling it’s going to be coming down that way everywhere. We have a feeling that the majority of the public is going to be on Auburn and even some of the bigger money.”

Anyone who likes Auburn would be wise to shop elsewhere. MGM Resorts and South Point posted the spread at Florida State minus-8 Sunday night. William Hill went with minus-7.5.

An SEC team has won seven straight national championships, but Auburn is the first since Florida in 2007 — which smashed Ohio State 41-14 as a 7-point underdog — to take points against a foe from another conference. In the final year of the BCS, Auburn could become its most improbable champion.

The Superbook opened the Tigers at 1,000-to-1 to win the title last January, and printed 14 tickets at that price.

“But we’re still sitting in a position that isn’t that bad,” Kornegay reported. “We’ve got a favorite that we need to win, and there are always things you can do with that. We’ve left ourselves room to manage our liability.”

At its highest, Florida State was 40-to-1 to win the title. The Seminoles have now been favored in all four of their trips to the BCS National Championship Game.

They lost two of the first three outright — 23-16 to Tennessee as a 5.5-point favorite in 1999 and 13-2 to Oklahoma as an 11.5-point favorite in 2001 — but beat Virginia Tech 46-29 giving six points in 2000.

Auburn won and covered in its only trip, defeating Oregon 22-19 as a 2-point favorite three years ago.

Last season’s national championship was the first time in 10 years that the game featured a spread of more than a touchdown. Now it looks like two in a row, though a lot can change in the month before the teams take the field.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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